replica
Oct 4th

ARC Review of Replica by Lauren Oliver

Posted in Reviews

Title: Replica Author: Lauren Oliver Publisher: Harper Collins Date Published: October 4, 2016 Where I got the book: ARC won in a Twitter giveaway Where You can buy the book: Flyleaf Books (Indie) | AMAZON Synopsis from Goodreads: Gemma has been in and out of hospitals since she was born. ‘A sickly child’, her lonely…

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replica
4 Star Rating

Title: Replica
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Harper Collins
Date Published: October 4, 2016
Where I got the book: ARC won in a Twitter giveaway
Where You can buy the book: Flyleaf Books (Indie) | AMAZON
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals since she was born. ‘A sickly child’, her lonely life to date has revolved around her home, school and one best friend, Alice. But when she discovers her father’s connection to the top secret Haven research facility, currently hitting the headlines and under siege by religious fanatics, Gemma decides to leave the sanctuary she’s always known to find the institute and determine what is going on there and why her father’s name seems inextricably linked to it.

Amidst the frenzy outside the institute’s walls, Lyra – or number 24 as she is known as at Haven – and a fellow experimental subject known only as 72, manage to escape. Encountering a world they never knew existed outside the walls of their secluded upbringing , they meet Gemma and, as they try to understand Haven’s purpose together, they uncover some earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls forever…

I’m going to start by being painfully honest. I’m not a Lauren Oliver fan. I found the Delirium books to be fun but lacking in real depth. They were also very similar to other YA trilogies out around the same time—The Hunger Games Era, if you will. I actually liked Panic, even if it wasn’t really my genre (I don’t read contemporary very often). Rooms was really well written, I took issue with some of the content being very triggering though. Why did I keep reading her books, you ask? Sometimes it’s hard to say no to something familiar. I knew her name so a book would come out and I would find myself picking it up from the library simply because she was familiar to me. That being said, Replica wasn’t even on my TBR. I had no interest in continuing to read her books unless the plot really screamed at me, and Replica did not. Please understand, I’ve mentioned all that not to hurt the author but to make sure that when I make the following statement, you understand the full power behind it. Replica was amazing. It blew me away. It is powerful, meaningful, and important. Even with the full force of my negative bias against her, Lauren Oliver wrote the most amazing book I’ve read this year, and I am humbled. I wish Lyra’s story had a little more of the twists in it, but I thought both stories were important, both fascinating and engaging to read. I felt like Lyra’s story gave me valuable information on Haven, and helped me know her and 27 as actual people, but their story didn’t move the plot along as well as Gemma’s did. There was just less exciting action in their part and very little of the mystery solved. I really enjoyed reading Lyra first and Gemma second. I would recommend reading it that way or alternating chapters. I think Lyra’s story might be a tiny bit disappointing after reading Gemma’s, not that it is less than, only that Gemma’s story holds all of the facts that weren’t all in Lyra’s side of the story. Even while reading Gemma’s story I had to stop myself from skimming some parts because I already knew what happened. I love the split stories and the meaning behind them. Illustrating that there is no objective experience was a very cool idea and made the story unique and added to the general meaning enclosed within the pages of Replica.

The messages in this story are numerous and powerful. Obviously Lauren states that right in the author’s note, but I want you to really believe and understand that this is a must read. This book delves into the definition of being human, of being a person. It touches briefly on the themes of body shaming, chronic illness, and family. It handles deep ethical questions and major soul searching conundrums. This is a book about discovering who you are, and finding the people that choose you just as you are. Choice is also a huge theme in Replica—arguably one of the most important— because what are we without the freedom to choose?

I cannot stress enough how important this book is, especially for young readers. Tell your mom to read it, tell your little brother, heck, tell your Great Aunt Gladys to read it! I’m telling everyone I know! For the first time I am actually excited for a Lauren Oliver sequel, more than excited if I’m being completely honest. Sometimes the world doesn’t operate in absolutes, sometimes you have to accept that people can grow and do better, be better. I’m glad I won this book in a giveaway and I’m glad I made myself read it. This is a truly amazing story and I hope everyone gives it a chance!

nemesis
Oct 3rd

ARC Review of Nemesis by Anna Banks

Posted in Reviews

Title: Nemesis Author: Anna Banks Publisher: Feiwel and Friends Date Published: October 4, 2016 Where I got the book: Won an ARC through a Twitter giveaway Where You Can Purchase the Book: AMAZON Synopsis from Goodreads: The princess didn’t expect to fall in love–with her nemesis. Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in…

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nemesis
4 Star Rating

Title: Nemesis
Author: Anna Banks
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Date Published: October 4, 2016
Where I got the book: Won an ARC through a Twitter giveaway
Where You Can Purchase the Book: AMAZON
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The princess didn’t expect to fall in love–with her nemesis.

Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee from his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king’s servitude.

Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.

Sepora’s gift could save Tarik’s kingdom from the Quiet Plague. But should she trust her growing feelings for her nemesis, or should she hide her gifts at all costs?

What a fun read! I haven’t read any of Anna Banks previous works, but if they are anything like Nemesis I will have to change that. While I had a difficult time in the beginning, I absolutely could not put this book down and I really loved it! The beginning moved a little slowly for me, and included a lot of both Tarik and Sepora repeating the same things in their thoughts. It was actually pretty realistic considering their circumstances. I think part of my impatience was due to them not being in proximity yet. I knew it was going to get really good when they eventually met and I was eager to see that happen.

I loved the worldbuilding in Nemesis. The idea of an Egyptian like civilization is really cool and well executed. I liked the serpent riding Serubelians and the cat loving Theorians. Having these civilizations be the antithesis of one another was vital to the story. I’d like to see some of Helmut, Wachuk, and Pelusia as well. I’m hoping we get a better look at them in the next installment. I also liked the magic, the elements, and the different creatures involved. Spectorium and nefarite are fascinating. While there is some magic involved, these are actual elements and they make the plot of Nemesis that much more unique to other books in the YA fantasy genre. The serpents, the cats, and the parani are really cool. I’m a sucker for mythical type creatures and these don’t disappoint! I MUST HAVE MORE OF THE PARANI IN THE NEXT BOOK!

Tarik and Sepora are great main characters. I love the ethical quandaries they are faced with and the way they value their people. Their chemistry is really good and I can’t wait to see how it develops after that crazy ending!! While I loved Tarik and Sepora, I’d also like to get to know some of the secondary characters better in the sequel. Cy, Sethos, and Rashidi are very interesting and I hope we see more of them.

Nemesis was a really enjoyable read. I loved the world and all the unique elements that brought it to life. I think the setting was unique and fascinating and the plot was really exciting and filled with delicious romantic tension. I can’t wait for the sequel, I know I’m going to devour it!

The Queen of Blood
Sep 30th

The Queen of Blood Blog Tour Presented by Irish Banana Tours

Posted in Reviews

Welcome to my stop on The Queen of Blood Blog Tour! Check out my review below and enter the rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a finished copy of the book and an awesome tiara. About the Book Title: The Queen of Blood Author: Sarah Beth Durst Publisher: Harper…

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The Queen of Blood

Welcome to my stop on The Queen of Blood Blog Tour! Check out my review below and enter the rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a finished copy of the book and an awesome tiara.

About the Book

Title: The Queen of Blood
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Date Published: September 20, 2016
Where I got the book: Finished copy from publisher
Where You Can Buy the Book: Flyleaf Books (indie bookseller) | Quail Ridge Books (indie bookseller) | AMAZON
Synopsis from Goodreads:
An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure[sic]

Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.

With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.

My Review

I really enjoyed this book! I was pleasantly surprised by how good The Queen of Blood was, not having read any of Sarah’s previous work (which I will now remedy). I read a lot of fantasy novels, both YA and adult, and it is very hard for a story to have little to no elements of something I’ve already read in them. I was amazed at how unique the world of Renthia and Daleina’s story are. We have a matriarchal society, which I absolutely LOVE! This society is not, however, a hereditary succession. Instead, girls with strong magic are chosen to become Heirs and one day the strongest of them will become Queen of Aratay. I also loved the fact that Daleina is not a special snowflake, quite the opposite. She does not have special powers, instead she is less powerful that the other students competing to become Heirs. She struggles so much, gets her butt kicked constantly, but she never gives up. She has the purest of motives and she is intelligent and resourceful. Even though this is an adult novel, I kind of want to recommend it for teenage girls. It has such a huge cast of powerful women, women not just using their magic but their brains, women with good hearts, who never give up. Honestly the sexual scenes are tame and it’s the violence and tragic/dark atmosphere that I believe makes The Queen of Blood an adult novel. If I had to draw comparisons to similar books I think I would liken this book to Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour, The Darkest Part of the Forestby Holly Black, and Roses and Rot by Kat Howard. The one thing that sets this book apart is that instead of dark malevolent fairies, we’re dealing with something scarier, more animalistic and base; elemental spirits!

I can tell that Sarah has been writing YA. A lot of adult high fantasy authors can be pretty verbose (Come on we’ve all thought it! Have you read The Song of Ice and Fire or The Wheel of Time?). Sarah does not suffer from that affliction which makes The Queen of Blood all the more enjoyable to read. I love the description of the spirits! I’m a very visual reader; I love good description because my imagination conjures the images in my head, making reading, for me, far superior to watching movies. THESE SPIRITS ARE CREEPY!!! Seriously, take this quote for example:
“Another wood spirit separated from the trunk of a tree, its bulbous body covered in a thick mat of moss and leaves. Teasing the edges of the charms, an earth spirit, hairless and brown, bared its rocklike teeth.”

Isn’t that creepy?! They are also super powerful and with Daleina having trouble controlling them as others do; it makes for a really dark and scary story.

One of my favorite things about The Queen of Blood is that even though there is a male and female main character, THEY ARE NOT LOVE INTERESTS! This is so important. In most novels, as soon as you have a male and a female main character, or both a male and a female point of view, you know instantly that they are going to fall in love. Not so in this book my friends! Instead we have a strong, deep mentor/mentee relationship that builds into a partnership and friendship. I think Ven and Daleina have really complimentary points of view and their relationship really changes the tone of this novel and makes it far superior to a lot of its contemporaries.’

You really need to pick up and read The Queen of Blood. I cannot wait to get my hands on book 2. I’m sure we’ll see more of Daleina, but will we see other Queens? Will we see more of Renthia? I can’t wait to find out!

About the Author
Sarah Beth Durst

Sarah Beth Durst is the author of ten fantasy novels for adults, teens, and children, including THE LOST, VESSEL, and THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM. She was awarded the 2013 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times. She is a graduate of Princeton University, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk. Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband and children. Visit her at www.sarahbethdurst.com.

Tour Schedule
Week 1:
9/26: The Irish Banana Review
9/27: Mundie MomsReview
9/28: Novel NoviceReview
9/29: A Backwards Story – Review
9/30: Fangs and Fur Fantasy Book Review – Review

Week 2:
10/3: Bookiemoji – Review
10/4: Kara the Redhead – Review
10/5: The Reading Addict – Review
10/6: Owl Always Be Reading – Review
10/7: The Plot Bunny – Review

Giveaway
1 winner will receive a copy of The Queen of Blood and a woodland fairy tiara (US Only)
Tiara
WordPress is Rafflecopter unfriendly! Click HERE to enter the giveaway if Rafflecopter below doesn’t work for you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Three Dark
Sep 26th

Review of Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Posted in Reviews

Title: Three Dark Crowns Author: Kendare Blake Publisher: Harper Teen Date Published: September 20, 2016 Where I got the book: ARC received in a Twitter giveaway Where You Can Buy the Book: AMAZON | Flyleaf Books (Indie Bookseller of the Day) Synopsis from Goodreads: Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets…

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Three Dark
4 Star Rating

Title: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Harper Teen
Date Published: September 20, 2016
Where I got the book: ARC received in a Twitter giveaway
Where You Can Buy the Book: AMAZON | Flyleaf Books (Indie Bookseller of the Day)
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

Wow, this was such a fascinating book! It surprised me at every turn, and while it didn’t live up to all of my expectations, I really enjoyed it. It is so hard to pinpoint exactly how to describe this book because it consistently changed tone and made me reassess the type of book I thought it was. The more I read the more difficult it became to figure out what I was reading. Is this a dark novel, an emotional novel, an uplifting novel filled with hope? Ok, I’m snorting at that last one, let’s just assume it is not that (although for a minute there I thought it was heading in that direction and almost didn’t continue).

The story begins by introducing us to Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella. They each get their own point of view and they are vastly different in tone and in experience. Katharine and Arsinoe both do not have the powers they are supposed to have. Katharine however is isolated, has no friends, and lives a very dark existence. Arsinoe on the other hand has very good friends and lives a very happy life. Mirabella has a very different experience because she actually has her powers and is extremely powerful. While she has friends, she seems emotionally isolated and extremely more controlled than the others. I loved that the book begins by giving each of the queens a chance to earn the reader’s sympathy, and I believe they did. Then you spend some time getting to know each queen and her friends/ the people that control them or isolate and train them. As the story develops new characters are introduced and it seems that the dread of the big yearlong battle is weighing on everyone. At this point you learn things that make it seem as if there isn’t going to be a battle. Please don’t stop reading, such is not the case. I was worried I was not reading the dark book I was really looking forward to and I dreaded getting to the happy ending where the queens stand up to the island council and decide to live in harmony. This book is still very dark at times; don’t give up my dark, gritty book loving friends!

I really hated Joseph, Pietyr, the nuns, and Arsinoe’s shitty aunt whose name I cannot even be bothered to remember. While I loved what they contributed at the end, the way they shaped the queens and gave us more darkness, I really detested them as characters. Mira was also not a favorite of mine. I liked her general story arc but I think it could have been written better. I did not feel the attachment to her that I did to Katharine and Arsinoe. I definitely feel that this is a plot driven book. The only impressive thing about the characters and the world-building was that they were unique, other than that I felt they were lacking in many respects. I still enjoyed the world of Fennbirn and I’d like to see it more thoroughly described in book 2. I also see a lot of potential in these characters, especially with that ending! So I hope to like them more in book 2 as well. Their development will really make or break the next book for me.

I LOVED the ending of Three Dark Crowns, but it also came as a surprise. I was not aware this was a series and because of that the ending felt very abrupt. At the same time it was super twisty and dark and pulled what might have been a 2 or 3 star book back up to a solid 4 stars. This book is definitely worth reading if you’re looking for something new, imaginative, and dark. If you start to lose interest please hang in there, I think the ending is definitely worth it.

The Female of the Species
Sep 24th

Review of The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Posted in Reviews

Title: The Female of the Species Author: Mindy McGinnis Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books Date Published: September 20, 2016 Where I Got the Book: ARC received via Twitter giveaway Want to buy your own copy? AMAZON| Quail Ridge Books (Indie Bookseller) Synopsis from Goodreads: Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad…

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The Female of the Species

Title: The Female of the Species
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Date Published: September 20, 2016
Where I Got the Book: ARC received via Twitter giveaway
Want to buy your own copy? AMAZON| Quail Ridge Books (Indie Bookseller)
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

Content warning for discussion of rape, assault, and murder.

You should read this book.

I won’t say that you need to–it was, at times, difficult to read–but I certainly believe that you should. The Female of the Species was an engaging story dealing with misogyny and rape culture. Mindy McGinnis created an enthralling plot, realistic characters, and altogether a book I found myseslf unable to put down. I was hooked from the moment I read the first page, an impressive feat.

There are three alternating points of view in this book: Alex, a vigilante whose sister was raped and murdered; Jack, a popular teenage boy; and Peekay, a rebellious preacher’s daughter. While the point of view changes each chapter, they were seamlessly woven together–I never felt that this book was disjointed. Each character plays a specific role: Alex is a vengeful protector, Jack serves as an example of the male gaze, and Peekay becomes the subject of Alex’s protection through a budding friendship. Jack and Peekay, as well as various side characters throughout the novel, are strikingly similar to so many of the people I remember going to high school with. Mindy McGinnis’ characterization results in a convincing and sometimes deeply unsettling portrait of adolescent life in modern America.

The plot, however, is the real enticement: Alex’s sister was brutally murdered. She hones her inherently violent nature so that she can become a weapon, protecting and defending other women who are subjected to physical and sexual violence. She keeps herself apart from others, concerned her dangerous nature could put them at risk. This changes as she begins to form a friendship with Peekay. As Alex is changed by this relationship, another forms: one with Jack. As the three of them are brought closer together, the story begins to pick up in pace. When Peekay is drugged and very nearly assaulted, Alex reveals her nature to the people she’s begun to grow close to. Things quickly escalate from here. I won’t reveal more than that, but know that I literally could not put this book down until I was finished with it.

My favorite thing about The Female of the Species is the lack of moral grandstanding. There are no long-winded paragraphs discussing why rape culture and misogyny are dangerous. Instead, McGinnis deftly weaves a story that reveals these truths without ever feeling like a public service announcement. Tied into this is the lack of condemnation of Alex’s actions. I loved that more than I could possibly explain in words. I feel that it is a rare and special thing that we don’t have to read some long moral tract about how while rape and murder are terrible acts, Alex doesn’t have the right to mete out punishment. There are few characters in contemporary literature that speak to me like she does and she will continue to be a favorite of mine.

The Female of the Species is one of the best books I’ve read thus far in 2016. The plot is enticing, the characters are realistic, and the message is important. I highly recommend that you read this book. This was my first experience reading Mindy McGinnis’ work and I’ve been more than successfully convinced to check out everything she’s ever written now.